Ngwa Road Market in Aba popularly called Ahia Ohu is the second largest market in the Enyimba City. The daily market which is situated in the heart of the city has expanded so much so that it has annexed major streets around it. Ngwa Road the major road linking the market from the main park from which the market took its name is now part of the market.
It is difficult to access the road because of the volume of trade that goes on along the street. The common scene along the road is traders with their waves on both sides making it extremely difficult for motorists and even pedestrians to move freely. Also on the other end of the market is School Road where shoes and bags are sold.
The rapid expansion of the market has also affected the road. A visitor to the market will not be wrong to assume that School Road is part of the market.
There are other roads along the market that are now part of the Market Georges, Highlife and Ube Streets. Apart from Ariaria, Ngwa Road Market is the second largest market in Enyimba city.
The market is known for its popularity in the sale and distribution of second hand clothing, shoes and bags. Traders from all the states within the south east geopolitical zone and indeed the country visit the market on a daily basis to purchase second hand goods. Also, the market is noted for the sale of bed sheets and materials for sewing men wears.
With the good network of roads courtesy of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration, the market is now growing in geometric progression. In the past it was extremely difficult to move through Ngwa Road but the state government has given it a face lift, it is now easy to access the market.
Mr. Jossy Ewulu a trader in second hand clothing was full of praise for the administration for making Ngwa Road accessible. He said that in the past, once it rained the drainage along Ngwa Road would be submerged and flood water would find its way to the stalls in the market. He further said he had lost goods worth millions of Naira due to flooding.
He said: “I can now sleep with my two eyes closed during the raining season.” Mrs. Naggie Okoh a petty trader said the rate the market is growing it might annex many streets and roads around the area.
She said that the market in recent time has grown in leaps and bounds. Mrs. Okoh said: “I have been a trader at the market for about 10 years now and you find out that the growth rate of Ngwa Road Market is so rapid.
As it grows, the number of customers also increases.” But the rapid expansion of the market has come at a cost, it has adversely affected the sanitation of the market.
With the expansion, many drainage systems along some roads that make up the market have been blocked. At school Road and Georges, the big drainage system is now filled to the brim with refuse. Also because of the rapid growth, traders now even put up stores on drainage systems.
Whenever there is serous rain, the debris in these blocked drainages are forced out and deposited inside market stalls, causing serious environmental and health hazard. Worst hit are market stalls along Ube Street in the market.
Traders now put their wares on refuse dump. Mrs. Ekwe Ike a trader who spoke to Saturday Telegraph said they had complained about the unhygienic state of the market to both the market authorities and people that matter but nothing had been done. She said that they had resorted to trading on refuse because there was nothing they could do.
“We are also afraid for our health, the stench that comes out of the refuse heaps may cause the traders serious health hazard,” she moaned. Another trader Mr. Anslem Igwe stated that any stalls built on the drainage were approved by the market authorities.
He said: “The fear is that the lives of those who trade on the drainage might be at risk in case of any serious flooding during trading hours. The authorities should be blamed instead of the traders because the stalls were approved,” he said.
He noted that Aba was prone to flooding, citing the case of the havoc done by Ndiegoro flooding disaster in the past. According to him, unless the drainages are cleared to make way for free flow of flood water, the market may witness a serious flood disaster.
Mrs. Adaku Ebere also said that members of her group at the market had suffered strange ailments that took them to the hospital, attributing it to the offensive odour they inhale daily basis at the market.
She added that apart from the stench they inhale on a daily basis, “refuse had taken over most part of the road through which customers come to our shops. The situation now is that flies and maggots have taken over everywhere; in fact it is a sorry sight to visit this section of Ngwa Road Market.”
For Nnanna Okey, his grouse is that despite the mountain of refuse and poor sanitation condition at the market they are made to pay market tolls that are grossly unnecessary.
“We want the market authorities to liaise with Abia State Environmental Protection Agency to clear the drainage and maintain sound hygiene at the market.
The sanitation condition of the market is deplorable and demands some urgent attention,” he said. Comrade Jude Chukwu, an activist and environmentalist, said the situation at this portion of the market demands some serious protest by the traders. He said it is a serious threat to lives and property.
He said: “How can you imagine somebody trading on top of drainage and refuse in the 21st century. I am ready to mobilise the traders to protest to high heavens to save them from going to their early graves.”
Mr. Ike Ibe, one of the landlords within the area, said the situation at the market was such that traders now sell their wares on top of refuse and filth and that it is worse whenever there is a heavy downpour.
“What we see is that the debris from the gutters that are blocked are deposited inside market stalls, blocking access roads and creating unhealthy environmental situation at the market. We have been praying so hard to Almighty God to save us from epidemic which may likely occur if care is not taken.
The reasons is that traders and customers transact business, eat and drink on top of the refuse,” he said. Mr. Ibe further said that landlords along the roads that had been taken over by the refuse had companied to the market authorities but were asked to liaise with the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) to clear the refuse.
But for Ijeoma Okwe, a trader, the situation is no longer a problem. “We are used to it, we do not complain because we have done that in the past without success.” She jokingly added that disease can never come near an average Nigerian.
She said: “Both the traders and customers at the market are healthy by the grace of God. All we are saying is for ASEPA and the market authorities to come to our aid because we do not want to stretch our faith too far.
Another reason that is creating panic in us is that Aba as a city is prone to flood,” she said while reminding our correspondent of the havoc done by flood when the city witnessed the Ndiegoro flood disaster where lives and property were lost.
Attempts to speak to the Deputy General Manager Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) Mr. Rowland Nwakamma were not successful as he was attending a stakeholders meeting and would not speak on the telephone.
Mr. Nwakamma however queried negative reports, adding that the agency had in past worked relentlessly to keep Enyimba city clean. He enumerated various achievements made by the agency which include prompt disposal of refuse and keeping the streets clean.
He revealed that the agency had instructed landlords around that market to always ensure that gutters and drainages around their buildings were cleared and kept clean.
He added that most landlords are yet to abide by the instructions of the agency, lamenting that they would rather make use of the drainage systems for refuse disposal.
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